Have you seen the Turner?

Have you seen the Turner?

Thats the question I get asked, now that people see me as an artist who works in moving image.  I get to the Tate to see the Turner 2018 shortlist the week before it closes, allowing two days to see the four submissions.  Four submissions, but one artist with a half hour film, one with three silent (though noisy) films, one has two films taking three hours, and one is a short film with a giant installation of added information and explanation.  The thing that always puts me off moving image work in galleries is that you have to invest so much time before you can even tell if the piece has anything to offer.  I like the glance and move on behaviour I can normally do in galleries - I usually whizz around a whole show and then go back and spend time with the pieces that call to me.

I watch Charlotte Prodger’s piece three times.  It is the only one of the submission that feels relevant to my practice - made with a phone, made without the slickness and technical process of the pieces by Naeem Mohaiemen, tells a personal story.  Social phenomena influence her story, but it is the personal account that is at the heart of this film.  It makes sense to me as a way of expressing thought.  It also startles me in the way it is assembled, in the way the artist is visible in the making though almost invisible on the screen.  I’ve diligently discarded all my film where my finger shows, where I stumble, where accidental intrusions affect the scene I’ve been recording.  I now think how narrow minded I was.  The key is not to use crappy film technique just because one doesn’t know better, but where it adds to the story.  I reacted with some belligerence to a film by Julia Peck, where her shadow appeared, where odd angles were used - the type of work that reminded me of old home movies where people forgot that they couldn’t rotate the camera, or put it down on a wall while the camera was still running.  Making the experience visible as a positive choice, placing the maker in the film, was something that I simple hadn’t thought of before.

The first time I watch.  The second time I pay attention to the way the film is assembled, but realise I cannot recollect enough to be of any use.  The third time I try to make notes, writing on a small notebook in the dark whole I sit uncomfortably on the floor.  Each time I am struck by the challenge of seeing the movie, of really paying attention, because of the layout and facilities in the space.  

There are four flat upholstery benches in the room.  Twelve people can sit moderately comfortably and see the film (though the second row has their view obscured by the first).  Not comfortably enough as some shift from on the bench to sitting on the floor leaning against the bench.  The first day, as people leave, seats become available, and I sneak swiftly through, noticing another person moving from the other side of the room and sighing as I get there first.  There is a gap between the benches so approaching through the middle is possible.  The second day this gap has shrunk so I end up perching facing backwards and twisting to see the screen.  I suppose the floor was vacuumed and the seats moved and no one cared enough to check the spacing.

Leaning against the wall is an option, though the sound panels stop just below shoulder height so that any lean gets a sharp corner into the back.  People lean, sit on the floor, wriggle.  The only ones who look comfortable are the kids under ten who are used to sitting on the floor.  

The film has starting times posted on the wall outside the door.  People come and go at anytime, and those who are planning to leave when the film finishes don’t know when it is time to leave as the gap is short and dark, and it isn’t until the film starts again that there is enough light to leave safely.  

These issues make me wonder - is this intentional on the part of the artist, to make the coming and going and viewing awkward, as she found herself awkward in finding and being herself?  Where does the line between making and presentation end when the piece is being viewed in the dark like this?  Howard Hodgkin used to insist on the colours of the walls his pieces were displayed against, not limiting himself to the canvas and the frame.  All four submissions are presented in different ways - who made that choice?

When I sit, painfully, through the third viewing, writing swiftly and hoping some of it is legible, I try to capture the patterns, where a sound bleeds from one scene to the next, where words are spoken or are written, where the audio and visual reference the same thing and where different. I’d have liked to be able to stop and start the film, rewind bits, look at it in detail, talk to the artist.  Unable to do this all I have is my notes.  As I type them up, struggling with handwriting, I begin to feel a fondness for the struggle that is emerging.  To be in an experience and understand it.  To focus on a film world and yet be in another world, that of the chairs and the air quality and the light and the people with the phones and beeping watches.  The film is about the construction of a self, its mutability, the influence others have.  In some way my attempt to see the film and cope with the interruptions and structural stupidities echoes this.  Maybe it is the artist’s choice.  Maybe it is intentional and not just the equivalent of the video recorder left running sideways on a wall.

Charlotte Prodger- notes in the dark

Notes in the dark: Turner Prize Charlotte Prodger

Swans and ducks on beach,  Wind in microphone booms along with the sound of waves.

Toilet stories - people thinking she is a boy.  Stationery camera, no jiggle.  Definite whop whop of wind.

Being mistaken for boy - is it because with swans we admire even though we can’t tell sex?

“closeted as well as a cradle snatcher”

Beep + standing stones and heather hills.  Quiet, no speech but yellow capitalised text of names and the ward grid and Agnes Martin.  Wind in microphone whops plus water, grasses and occasional insect, airplane and footsteps.

Where else do people sit on the floor? Airports when fights cancelled.

Fourth wall “ and now while you are watching it” - activity of the ward.



General moor sound runs into this black

Speech, scream? Hurdy gurdy

Red +

Loud and a bit painful

Overlaid (?) of stationary TV screen, lights mountain sky

Finger obscures image partially, complexity (?) red then blue of sky.  Is the mountain japanese? Is it Mt Fuji, initial word.  Image of Charlotte on screen- no, Swiss type and lots of dust

Moves to cat, stretched out on bed asleep.

(lean against wall, but there are sound panels at shoulder height which means leaning is painful and unsupported, handbag in small of back)

Whop whop of wind on the thrum of engine on Ferry, looking back over trail, almost but not always horizontal up down of boat like up down of camera in initial shot in bed, rise and fall of breath -long shot of long journey, quiet, seeing no change

Sandy Stone 1999

Virtual systems theory

Technology / embodiedness etc

Island of nuns 4 year isolation retreats

Bandwidth and reality, 

hot medium wide, 

cool medium - narrow bandwidth

Computer view text - more deep and obsessive connection - like nuns on island

Obvious but not stated

Space for own thought

Bigger rise and fall of boat standing stones

Lesbian seperation

Laughter from audience

Sandy Stone

Child and parent with baby walk in, little boy was (?) to the front and sits on floor with others as if this is normal - which in primary school it probably is.

T shirt with cat mage, face like cat enjoying light

Sock an blacker just visible rising and falling with breathing

Sinuses recover room nurse - altered states

Socket crooked compared to skirting board

Fall asleep


Don’t know had op

Dog and standing stone and expanding white line grid overlay wider and wider until just central line on standing stone and five horizontal lines visible (sketch).  

(I thought the grid was going to be like an archaic computer game, especially after she describes the recovery nurse (two twelve hour shifts a week) who did the animation for her, rather than just expanding lines.)

No sound

Thank you

And references

The war of desire 199?

Blank - people sit still don’t know its finished

can’t leave until it starts agains as then the light levels go up

Glarey window with plants and trainers

Slight jerk of focus

Rise and fall of breathing

Radio? Tv? friends(male) in background, half a telephone conversation

Squeaky thumpy music

Describe focused attention of the upcoming surgery “But your no there”

Misty hillside

Scratchy music overlaps the quiet birdsong

Still, complex but stationery


19/19 acid Julian Cope

(Two people come and get along wall closer to screen but not against wall so obscure my view by at least half)

Great Mother



Residential care home work didn’t know any lesbians - no experience

18 month waiting whilst full time shift work - limbo  closeted libidinious energy

Using screens, texting screens


Black bird song (?)




Australian anaesthetist transition room


Greening yellow glow on screen

What you think about now is what you are going to dream about 

Filed sliced show

Longer that I realised being (?)(ref to own GA experience)

Last content before nothing

Brighter yellow

Strange burning plastic machine plus its noise (read this as nausea first)

Not clear what it is doing

Just see laser cutting? Or laser building in plastic

Cat enjoying light

Fills screen black 

Cat white light.

Changing angle, bit of flare

Loose jazz with clunky thump

Like shoe in washing machine

Who still sets watch to beep? Or has phone that beeps  (? ? ) and his phone is annoying me - he should be at the back or outside

Lots of flare

Bits of flowerpots



Squiggly sax

White bright

The view of red lorry

In winter landscape keeping 

Pace with train and speech

Bridget names

Red tanker on misty ocean

Deities many names

3 diff phases old, middle aged, young - different names

Repeats names of goddesses

Furry cap brim and cherry trees in blossom against grey sky

General sounds of people in background, shouting, footsteps

Hat moves against net(?) of trees, loud (?) noise and airplane or thunder?

Specific dates without year

Some direct quotes

Quiet, three standing stones

Yellow Text

Ward 48 Grid


 7:30 wait  .                ward


     theater recovery

(sketch much easier with pen on paper)

Next one comes in …



This infinite

Time space  (?)

Before I was there

When I wrote this

When I edited it

When you watch this

Phone goes off

Black.  Or lighter


Yellow (?)


Identity package

The adult is not merely the child a bit later on in time

Scrabbled in handbag for phone next door

on TV screen with raueam (?) music


(I looked it up - it is a sanskrit word meaning consciousness )

The Tate publication says this is her computer monitor with a named flat drive visible- named after Alice Coltrane (jazz musician)